Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wandering Mystic Meditation From Brighton Beach

We live on Ocean Parkway, with Brighton Beach and the Atlantic Ocean only a few minutes drive away. There is no money to speak of, but we always get by. Lack of funds makes life hard for my parents, but in some ways it may be a gift. We grow up appreciating the free things in life … namely, nature.

Going to the beach, driving upstate to see the Fall foliage and pick apples every Sept/Oct, camping every summer. These are our family activities because we can’t afford expensive vacations. It might seem like a compromise, but those low budget adventures yield memories we keep for years to come. My older brother and sister also grow up loving the outdoors, and we look back on those early years often. My parents always wanted to give us the best, but felt they couldn’t. Well, maybe they did after all.

In the summers, even before we have a car, we take the F train to Brighton Beach, only a few stops away. About 5 or 6 years old, I help to schlep beach chairs and bags loaded with towels up the stairs to the platform. In my youth, I don’t recognize any of it as hard. I’m anxious to get to the sand, the Sabrett hot dog man at Bay 8 by the handball courts, and the ocean, the infinite ocean. Standing at the edge of my universe facing the water, I feel small. The rest of the world seems incredibly far away. The strange part, though, is also feeling somehow connected in that spot. Feet in breaking waves at the shoreline put me at the closest point to the next shoreline. This is humbling and invigorating at the same time.

Never big on building castles, my sister and I dig holes in the sand with our best friends until they’re deep enough to hit water, the test being who can reach China first. At noon we take breaks for tuna sandwiches, gritty with sand and delicious. By 5 pm, we have to give up on China for the day.

What never leaves me is the sense of wondering about people in far away lands standing on their coastlines, wondering about me. I know early that I will stand on as many other coastlines as possible, so I can think about young children digging back on Brighton Beach, and send my heart home to them.

Getting past childhood and into the teen years is never easy for anyone. I’m not special because I feel lost and alone; I’m a statistic. Like every young girl, I wonder if anyone will ever love me, what he’ll be like, what I’ll be like, and what kind of life we’ll live. So many unknowns are unsettling for a controlling person, to say the least. One thing I do know is even though I want a family and a love of all loves in my future, I need a life of my own, adventures of my own, accomplishments for myself. I don’t just dream of being a wife and mom, I dream of being a jet setter. I continue to read voraciously, which sometimes cools the burning desire to go, do, and see. Sometimes it only adds fuel to the fire.

Beth Kallman Werner is the author of the book Travels of an Independent Woman, from which this story was taken. She educates, encourages, and empowers writers with her company Author Connections that provides marketing and editing services. She lives with her chocolate lab and husband of unspecified color in the woods of Pennsylvania, where she pursues travel, photography, cooking, and gardening.


  1. Thanks, Beth. Brought back memories. I used to take the subway with my
    family to Brighton Beach from the West Side of Manhattan, before it was Seinfeld country. I think we went to Brighton instead of Coney Island because the latter had too many expensive attractions.

    1. Hi Michael, Please forgive the delay in this reply. Lyn sent me the link to this blog and I shared it on my own pages, but never thought to check back here for comments. There isn't any notification when a comment is posted, so I had no idea. Thank you for taking time to share your memories of Brooklyn. Nostalgia all around. If you would like to keep track before my book launches next June, you are welcome to join us: Cheers.

  2. A wonderful post, Beth.

    I have not been there, but I've stood on beaches in our Maritime Provinces looking out at the Atlantic, looking east, wondering if someone in Europe at that moment was standing on a beach looking west.

    1. Thanks so much, William. I never learned of any comments on this post, so apologize for this delayed reply. As a writer it is always a tremendous boost when someone responds to your content that it touched them somehow. This means the world to me.

      You are welcome to join us leading up to my book's launch next June. All the best to you.